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May Day Newsletter — May 1, 2012
“It is important sometimes to see things on a large scale,” Astronomer Nick Cross reminds us, speaking of a stunningly detailed portrait of about a billion stars in our Milky Way Galaxy. This month’s Gratefulnews captures not only those stars in the heavens, but also those who light our way on earth, persevering in spite of adversity:
When we span out into this larger view, our vision becomes like Rachel Robinson’s. Plunged into grief over the premature death of her husband Jackie Robinson – the first African-American major-league baseball player – she decided to keep her husband’s message of breaking color barriers as powerful as ever by creating a scholarship and mentoring program that helps minority students attend college. Or we gain insight like Lyn Lusi’s, who became “Mama Lyn” to thousands of traumatized Congolese women, knowing that each one she helped became part of a more expansive picture of healing.
In this spirit, Sogyal Rinpoche writes, “All beings everywhere suffer; let your heart go out to them all.” Stephen Sims picks up this theme as a call to compassion:
In a time when it is easy to lose our moral compass, Sims draws us back to the inspired words of Isaiah:
"Is not this the fast that I choose:
…to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
"Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
"Then shall you light break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up speedily…."
And what does this have to do with gratefulness? Trusting in life and the countless gifts we have been freely given, from the air we breathe to our ability to love, we keep the circle of thanks in motion by offering our lives gladly. Our genuine gratitude – an essential part of a needed groundswell of moral affirmation – can turn us away from ways that are barren and unjust, and move the world towards a future rich in possibility. Kathleen Dean Moore, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Oregon State University, encourages us to consider what personal integrity requires in response to the needs of our planet (scroll down to “Moral Ground,” new under Links):
Our gifts back to Mother Earth may seem as insignificant as the lanyard about which poet laureate Billy Collins so engagingly writes:
But Earth receives from our hands whatever we can offer. And what we can offer will grow as we continue to evoke wonder:
“Only one response can maintain us:
gratefulness for witnessing the wonder,
for the gift of our unearned right to serve,
to adore, and to fulfill. It is gratefulness
which makes the soul great.”
Thank you for cultivating your greatness of soul in the company of others. Please, if you can, join us on June 23rd in San Francisco, where we will explore these themes in more depth in the company of Br. David Steindl-Rast, Chungliang Al Huang, Angeles Arrien, David Whyte, and many more luminaries:
With kindest regards,
Patricia and Margaret
for our Gratefulness Team